A (Probably) Complete History of Weezer in Relation to Me

In response to one of his friends’ Facebook posts, a clip of Weezer playing live, my friend Mark found himself wondering why the band remained so popular after all these years. Since, once upon a time, I was in a Weezer cover band, he decided to ask me. In short, he wanted to understand “the significance of this man [Rivers Cuomo], his band and why they’ve stayed important for 15 years.” My relationship with the band is kind of complicated (though likely not unique), so I knew that in order to answer this question, I would have to detail my history with them, rather than attempt to write something objective. After all, I usually can’t understand why the masses like what they like. But I do know why I loved Weezer, then hated them, then came to terms with them throughout their existence. My story is a long one. But hopefully it will be interesting to more than just one or two people. If you please:
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NFT Radar: Gainsbourg

I’m not crazy about authentic French cooking. I find it heavy and uninteresting. Apparently, all it needed was a Seattle twist! Gainsbourg is among Seatown’s best restaurants. We were lucky enough to dine when mac and cheese was the special. Not too oily, perfectly bread crumbed and Gruyere laden, it was unequivocally the best I’ve ever tasted. Gruyere. Other menu highlights include the Croque Monsieur, the French Dip, and Poutine. They season most dishes with pig, but will make vegetarian versions of practically everything. (Beware. They mustn’t clean the pans. A little chunk of ham was hiding in our Roasted Brussels Sprouts.) Their drink menu is as elaborate as the food, with an entire page devoted to Absinthe. The Lavender Lemonade (spiked with vodka) is as refreshing as it is dangerous. Naturally, they also offer a large list of French wines. The decor is dark and interesting. Real candelabras sit on each table, making you feel like characters in a gothic romance novel. But you might want to move it away from yourself after a few drinks. Francophiles might take issue. But for people on the fence about French cooking, Gainsbourg is a revelation.


8550 Greenwood Ave N

X-posted from Not For Tourists.

NFT Radar: Curtsy Bella

These days, you can pretty much buy anything on line. But Curtsy Bella remembers when customer service meant something. If you’re in the market for a cute and quirky gift for your engaged friend, your pregnant friend or your girlfriend, 10 minutes of browsing the cleverly arranged displays will yield more viable options than you ever thought possible. Their fanciful inventory includes socks, hats, bags, jewelry, clothing, and plenty of knickknacks you can’t live without. They also have a delightfully snarky greeting card selection to help express your sentiments. It’s like an upscale Archie McPhee’s you’re your recipients will actually use the things you buy them. The easily overwhelmed can take advantage of their shopping service. Call or email with a little information and they’ll work with you until they find the perfect gift to meet your needs. They’ll even gift wrap it (in leopard print paper!) and ship next day or same day by courier. You’ll look thoughtful, whimsical and timely. I’d say that you couldn’t buy service like that. But you could. At Curtsy Bella.


2920 NE Blakeley St
www.curtsybella.com

X-posted from Not For Tourists.

NFT Radar: Bottega Italiana

People say gelato is better for you than ice cream but it sounds too good to be true. Still, when there’s a gelato place in your neighborhood, it’s difficult to stay away. Bottega Italiana follows suit with being irresistible, but they aren’t exaggerating when they say that their gelato isn’t bad for you. It’s not as healthy as, say, a big bowl of spinach, but indulging isn’t going to negate your time at the gym either. As if that weren’t enough of an excuse, they use only natural, local and seasonal ingredients. Whether you’ve chosen to live dairy free, or nature chose for you, you can still enjoy one of their vegan fruit flavors. Those who can’t say no to creamy goodness will be pleased as punch with one or more of their year-round flavors like hazelnut, pistachio, and caffe. If you feel the need to be responsible, you can make a meal out of it by adding a lunchtime pannini and real Italian espresso. But remember, it’s low fat. So if you’ve had a hard day (or want to make a good day better), go ahead and get that double scoop. We won’t judge.


409 NE 70th St
www.bottegaitaliana.com

X-posted from Not For Tourists.

Film Threat Review: The Town

2010
Rated R
120 minutes

***

Do you like apples?

Way back in 1997, Ben Affleck wasn’t what you’d call a gifted actor. But he did write a script with fellow Bostonian, Matt Damon. When that script got the coveted Green Light, and it came time to decide who would play the lead, I imagine Ben conceded, knowing his friend was the better actor. Will Hunting was a meaty role and it led to a lot more meat for Damon. Meanwhile, Affleck was stuck playing one-note guys for years to come. Some part of him must have longed for his chance to play a working-class Boston savant. As both director and star of “The Town”, Affleck finally gives himself that chance. And he doesn’t even screw it up. Like, at all.

Naturally, “The Town” in question is a borough of Boston. According to the opening titles, Charlestown is known for producing more bank robbers than any other city in the world. The film doesn’t exactly explain why that is, but it does show Charlestown as a very tight nit crime community, with transgressive skill passed down through the generations like a family business. Instead of being a math genius, Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) is a bank-robbing savant. He and his merry band of thieves are organized and efficient, turning bank robbing into an art form. They wear disguises and sometimes even play characters. They get in, get the money and get out, leaving no trace of DNA behind. Ordinarily, they take no prisoners. That’s why it’s a surprise to the rest when Jem (Jeremy Renner), the ticking time bomb of the group, decides to take a hostage to aid their getaway. Things get even more complicated when they learn that the hostage, a pretty girl named Claire, lives in Charlestown and could possibly identify them.

Wary of Jem’s violent tendencies, MacRay offers to check in on Claire and find out if she knows anything. Of course, since she’s a pretty girl with a philanthropy streak, and he’s a gold-hearted gangster, he soon falls for her. Even though she doesn’t really remember anything, their budding relationship puts his whole team in jeopardy as the F.B.I. closes in on them. Even though they specialize in leaving no trace, they’re basically the only four guys in town who could have done it. Furthermore, the main G-Man assigned to their case (Jon Hamm) is hard-ass with something to prove. And he won’t stop until all of the suspects are either behind bars or dead.

Unlike Will Hunting, MacRay wants nothing more than to just leave Charlestown, preferably with his new girlfriend. But nobody will let him. Not Jem, his oldest friend who chose to do time rather than rat MacRay out; Not coked-up Krista, Jem’s sister and MacRay’s ex, who uses her baby as a way to garner sympathy; Certainly not the Irish florist/crime boss (Pete Postlethwaite) who insists that the gang to pull off one last, seemingly impossible job even while the heat builds under them.

There’s a lot of conflict in “The Town”. It unfolds slowly and builds on itself, leaving the viewer with a keen understanding of MacRay’s inner turmoil. The film doesn’t explicitly state why he saw gangster as a viable alternative to his foiled professional hockey career. But it offers plausible cause as to why he’s remained a gangster even though he’s an otherwise nice guy. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be surprised to find this sort of layered characterization in serious noir drama. But this is Ben Affleck we’re talking about: Ben “Pearl Harbor Sucks and I Miss You” Affleck. I really have to hand it to him. He’s studied and learned a few things over the years. He’s not at all painful to watch anymore.

And apparently, he also knows how to direct. From a directorial standpoint, “The Town” isn’t necessarily a revelation, but it’s competent. The overall story is pretty cliché. But the action scenes are exciting, the interrogation scenes are tense, the getting-to-know-you scenes with Claire are full of heart and most of the dialogue is delightfully hard-boiled. Every scene hits its intended note. It certainly helps that Affleck filled in his supporting cast with phenomenal talent.

Hamm! Who doesn’t love Hamm? This pony knows all the tricks. As Don Draper, he’s the suavest motherfucker on the planet. But comb his hair forward and his whole demeanor changes. His F.B.I. agent is still cocky, but his intimidating asides make him sound like a dick. Don’t get me wrong; he’s a delightful dick. It’s very fun watching him kick some serious ass during a raid and try to get the guys to cave in the interrogation room. He’s supposed to be the good guy, but he’s obsessed with winning at all costs, and that makes him shady as far as heroes go. MacRay and his gang aren’t necessarily the bad (or good) guys either. That’s part of what makes “The Town” so entertaining. In many ways, it’s a standard heist picture. But it’s also about people. It’s like Ben Stiller’s character says in “The Zero Effect”. “There aren’t evil guys and innocent guys. It’s just…a bunch of guys”.

Like “Good Will Hunting,” “The Town” is all about redemption. But in this case, it’s not just for Doug MacRay, but also for Ben Affleck. Clearly tired of the “Gigli” jokes, he’s worked hard to better himself as an actor and a filmmaker. And apparently, it’s paying off.

How do you like them apples?

Originally published on FilmThreat.com (now defunct).